Chapter 5: The Men of the Crew
A searing warmth enveloped me invitingly, like a new born baby placed on it’s mother’s bare chest. I inched closer to it, seeking out the comfortable feeling next to me. My arms tightened around it happily from the contentment it so happen to give me.
“Mmm,” a soft moan of pure tranquility that eased over me was let out. The warmth was incredibly soothing against the thin layer of my dress. Even the aroma around me was relaxing.
The smokiness of fire burning hit my senses, along with a hint of an earthy pine. It smelt fresh like evergreen needles, thick and flexible, drooping gracefully from their branches.
Then a hint of blossoms, normally in early spring that produces beautiful five-petaled white flowers, smelt sweet. It was the mixture of natural scents that sent me back into slumber until I felt movement not of my own.
My body tensed against the warmth, now realizing where it had been coming from. The muscled flesh of another human lay underneath my figure in a deep slumber. Instinctively, my eyes flew open to see the position I had been casually sleeping in.
The familiar sight of the person I was sprawled across made my cheeks flush red. It was him, the one with the mysterious aggressive green eyes that I have come to find transcendent.
My breath caught in my throat and the fear of waking him up froze me in my spot. My leg was lazily thrown over the lower half of his body where his legs laid wide open. One of his arms were snaked around my torso locking me against his bare chest.
Carefully, I began pulling myself away from him trying to roll out of the death grip when it only got tighter. Forcefully, with a great strength, was I reeled back in slamming against his chest.
“It’s not morning yet, Princess.” His voice was rough and hoarse from sleep. Panic rose in me and I tried to pull away again only moving an inch from his body.
“Let me go,” I demand, breathing out heavily from the tingles that formed over my skin. I wanted to get away, but another part of me just wanted to stay right here and fall back asleep.
“If I do that, will you run?” He asked and I immediately shook my head.
“No, I won’t run.” As the words left my mouth his arm released me and I sprung backwards across the blankets. His hand snatched my ankle, but I didn’t plan on going anywhere.
“Explain yourself, now!” I glare down at his strikingly green eyes. His raven black hair was sticking out wildly in different directions. He yawned before he sat up and faced me with tired eyes.
“Well, this big tough Princess decided to head butt one of the strongest warriors in the army. Then came along a handsome Knight who saved her from having her face punched in. He gladly opened his tent for her to stay in and sleep the night away, but here we are now and your complaining,” He started off kindly, but it was quickly replaced with ill humor.
My eyes narrowed as my glare darkened, there was an unseen silent war breaking out between our gazes. “That’s not what I meant,” I said through clenched teeth.
“Then what do you mean? Please, enlighten me darling.” He released his hold on my ankle and shot up from the pile of blankets. His tense back muscles faced me as he stood in front of a wooden table with a simple chair. There, he grabbed a murky glass bottle putting it up to his lips.
“Who are you really, Clyde?” I enunciate his name slowly and clearly. “My instincts tell me it won’t be long until I find out who you are, so tell me...” I trailed off inching closer to see his hidden face behind the bottle of rum.
“Are you leading the Revolutionary Army?” I questioned, waiting for his reaction. It would make sense that he was the one ruling them into taking down Aridor. His whole facade about him saying ‘my position is for me to remember, and for you to never find out’ was beginning to be a lie to me.
Clyde didn’t want me unveiling his cover accidentally to the Prince. I must be his biggest pawn, an innocent Princess sheltered by her parents would be perfect for molding me into a Queen they desired.
He set the bottle back down on the table and turned to face me with a grin whilst leaning back on the table. He folded his arms over his chiseled chest watching me with fixed eyes before answering.
“Close, but I am not the one leading it. It’s my father who is in charge here. I just handle the regiments,” he drops his gaze to the floor, “until tomorrow evening.”
He sighs while placing his hand on the nape of his neck. He rubs it out of annoyance as he closes his beautiful eyes to ponder.
“What do you mean by ‘until tomorrow evening’?” I question further and he chuckles lightly.
“Meaning, I have a new assignment to fulfill. A mission that’s inescapable for me, just like your future. Neither of us can run away from this,” he says pushing himself off the wooden table. He moves towards the other side of the tent and slightly opens the flap to peek out.
“Why is it that I was brought here? Does it have to do with your new mission?”
“You ask a lot of questions, how about a thank you for saving you from that pathetic excuse of a Prince?” He grinned and folded his arms waiting to hear me express my gratitude.
“A lot of men died for it, it’s hard to be grateful for the loss of so many lives.” I admitted, but deep down I had been thankful for it. “Even though death surrounded me, I was quite happy to finally see nature for the first time. Thank you.”
“There’s much more you will see, I can promise you that. Now come along, let’s get you a meal.” He gestures for me to follow right before he slips out of the tent.
Suppose I have no choice.
Lifting myself from the pile of blankets that lay perfectly on the ground, I found myself peeking out the tent as well. Clyde was already seated by the fire talking with a couple men that were relaxing with tin cups in their hands.
Their low murmurs had me curious, so I stepped out from the warmth of the tent. Slowly, but gracefully, I walked over to the group of men with fidgeting fingers. Approaching them they all stopped talking to look at me with curious eyes.
I flash a shy smile as I sit down on the large log next to Clyde. He immediately hands me a bowl of steaming soup that looked like it contained some kind of mystery meat, carrots, and potatoes.
“It’s not a meal fit for a Princess, but I promise that you will love it.” Clyde says with soft smile.
“Where is my handmaid? Serena?” I ask holding tightly on the wooden bowl to warm my hands.
“Tristan has taken her to a safe house, she can not stay here with us. I can assure you, she will be safe there. They’ll put her to work with the orphans,” Clyde explained while biting into a loaf of bread.
Please keep Serena safe. I prayed to the gods.
“I see, she doesn’t belong here anyways. I’m sure she will be delighted to work with children,” I smiled happily at the thought. When the time is right, I’ll go to retrieve her and bring her back home with me. It’s too bad that I didn’t get to say my farewells.
“Princess-” Clyde started.
“Artemis,” I corrected him as I still gaze into the creamy soup before me. It had seemed like I had no appetite, but I knew I would have to eat eventually.
“Let me introduce you to the men you’ll be traveling with,” he points to the first man across from us, “this is Ryder, the chef, who will be cooking all of our meals.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Ryder says with a generous smile on his thin pale lips. He had thick red hair that looked like it had not been combed for a very long time and dark eyes that were nearly black holes.
“Likewise,” I say and look to the next man that Clyde was pointing at. He had light brown hair that was perfectly taken care of, a square jaw, and lovely brown eyes.
“This is Fenwick, he is a very intelligent man. He’ll be coming along as our doctor.”
“It’s an honor, my lady.” Fenwick puts his hand over his chest and bows his head. A small smile forms on my lips as I acknowledge their kindness so far.
“Then, of course, there is Clem. He is our navigator and shipwright, the most important man of the group.” Clyde gestures to Clem who is waving excitedly at me with thrilled striking blue eyes. His black is long and tied back in a sloppy ponytail.
“It’s an honor, my lady!” Clem practically shouts as he grabs my hand kissing it vigorously.
“Okay! Okay! Hands off the the prized merchandise!” Clyde whacks his hands away and Clem silently apologizes bowing his head in respect.
“Then we have two very highly trained warriors coming as well, other than me. You already met Tristan and the other which is Blaive.” Clyde explains and I see Blaive sitting behind the group leaning his head back holding his bloodied nose with some fabric. “And you, welcome to the crew!” Clyde adds.
“Where are we off too?” I question them as they all look to Clyde, which I’m assuming will be their Captain.
“Hope you don’t get sea sick too easy,” Clyde jokes as he drinks from a bottle of rum.
“We’re traveling across the far oceans, love.” Ryder tells me as he rolls his eyes Clyde.
“Yes, so eat while you can. We need to be up bright and early in the morning to make it to a quick briefing and then we set sail as soon as we can.” Clyde explains and points down at my bowl of untouched soup. “Eat it, now.”
“I do not know how to eat this,” I admit as I search around for any kind of utensil.
The men around me bust out laughing as Clyde pinches the bridge of his nose with his index finger and thumb.
“This is going to be long trip.”
Next time I’ll dream sweeter🌹
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